After running home to pick up Dee, we started off towards the Fashion Island Apple Store. From looking at forums during the day, a specific discussion on Orange County stores left me with this information: South Coast is the busiest of all Apple stores in the area on a normal day, and the OC Register had a reporter blogging in-line at Irvine Spectrum Center's Apple Store. Fashion Island is the next closest Apple store to us after those two, and we started off that way.
The path to Fashion Island took us past work, and the new shopping center beside it. I knew at the start of this week that there was a new at&t Store in the center, but it wasn't showing up on the online "Where To Get iPhone" search. Wondering if, just maybe, it would be a way to skip lines, I decided to swing in.
They were open at 6, and had iPhone materials in the window. I walked in the lineless door and found a salesperson and asked about iPhone. "We're a new store and didn't get an allocation for launch units. We can place an order for you, though." How long until that order gets filled? "We can't provide ship estimates for backorders." OK, well, I thought I'd try at&t and it was a no go. Off to Fashion Island!
Facist... err, Fashion Island's parking lot was packed, as usual, when we arrived. I tried to find an accessible parking spot, but they were all filled. In looking, though, I was able to check out the line. It was long, having wrapped around the store and out to the parking lot, but I wouldn't have put it over 500 people. I ended up finding a spot far, far away to get, and I ran off to get in line and let Dee catch up at her pace.
It wasn't hard to find the end of the line, and there were no "tickets" or "wristbands" on anyone, which was a relief too. This is when I started to think that I might be getting an iPhone, though I was worried if I'd be told "Sorry, we only have 4's left," by the time it was my turn. I started talking with the guy behind me in line before Dee found me, and then we started talking with two other folks ahead of us, one of whom was later joined by their spouse.
It took about 90 minutes for our "end of the line" group to make it inside. During that wait, Apple staffers came through the lines several times offering the almost-trademark free water. A smaller number of staffers came through with information cards on iPhone service plans and announcing upcoming store programs - such as iPhone Demonstration sessions.
The first time the water people came through, I asked them if they had any information on total number of units or split between sizes. They laughed, and were friendly, but said they really didn't know other than, "it looked like a lot of equal-sized big stacks."
The real experience starts at the door. First, they wanted to know how many iPhones you were buying - I think this was part of a inventory check for them. Then you went inside, and at our store we passed by 4 employees that would occasionally clap as people came in or left. There was a short queue through the software display stacks in the middle of the store, and then an employee to ask if you were paying cash or credit. The gentleman ahead of me paid cash, and I found out that only 1 of the 5 cashiers at the Genius Bar was taking cash transactions, so he had to wait to the side while I took the next credit card station.
"One 8 Gig, please." A box was grabbed from behind and brought to the counter. I pulled out my credit card and ID and had them ready. Signed on the little screen, and then gave him my .Mac email address to get my receipt by e-mail. Fast and easy for me.
After getting you phone, you could stay in the store and browse. I went looking for the Apple Bluetooth Headset, but found an employee who told me that it won't be in for a few weeks yet. When they announced it this week, I hadn't look for availability info... oops!
Overall, Apple had a great "experience" in the store, and getting the iPhone home was even better! I waited until about midnight to activate the phone and had no problems. And on Saturday I finally got to sync the iPhone with my desktop and load my tunes and photos.
I ran out for breakfast stuffs from a bakery this morning and finally verified that the iPhone works with my car's receiver. The iPhone warns that the device isn't "iPhone compatible" and recommends putting the iPhone in Airplane Mode to reduce audible interference; I said No, and could hear the "GSM clicks" sounds like my old RAZR. So I guess "iPhone" accessories need better shielding!